Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Buffalo Sabres offseason options

by Steve

The Buffalo Sabres since the lock out have had one of the most dominating, high scoring, efficient, most winning, copied team in the Nation Hockey League. Yet they have failed to even reach the Stanley Cup Finals. Sure only 2 teams make it after a grueling first 3 rounds of best of 7 series, but literally and figuratively the Sabres haven't been close to winning the cup. The Sabres are at a crossroads this offseason, with highly talented players once again becoming free agents. Perhaps it is time for the Sabres again to move in a different direction, here's what I suggest.

Chris Drury was a highly touted player with a Stanley Cup under his belt early in his career. Won the Hobey Baker and Calder Trophy, yet was traded to Calgary before the opening of the 2002 season. He was again traded the following year to the Sabres. Every time prognosticators predict contracts it is more than what they thought. Everyone is saying Drury will get around $6+mill for this season, so it shouldn't be a shock if he gets more. If Drury refuses to pay for less, the Sabres should walk away. There are other Drury's out there that won a Championship early in their career playing a smaller role and looking to prove themselves. Well at least isn't that why everyone loves Darcy Regier in the first place, cause he found that guy? Maybe in hindsight, being 20/20 and all, a trade should have taken place before this point.

Well if he will stay for $6 or less keep him, if not oh well, he didn't win here the last two years whats to say he will in the next 2. Next is Dan Briere. It took Briere 4 seasons after making his NHL debut to prove he was worth being drafted in the first round by the Phoenix Coyotes. In 2001 he scored 32 goals yet was traded to the Sabres in the middle of the following year for Chris Gratton, a journeyman veteran filling a need on a team looking for a cup run. Look where he is today, a top 10 scorer in the NHL and a man contending for a $7+ contract. Sure it took the Sabres 3+ season before they realized his full potential and they were on their way to their own Cup run, but the guy was had for a career 15 goal scorer who had some grit in the corners. Again if Regier is so great, can he not find the next Briere?

Ideally you don't get rid of these guys. Realistically you can't expect to find the next Briere/Drury that readily or easily. However, that is what the Sabres, a small market team with a fan base that readily accepts winners however ignores mediocrity, must do to compete every other year. Of course I would not be suggesting getting rid of Drury and Briere if they did not have to but, $7 million? No or VERRRRRY few players are truly worth that much money, and frankly neither of them are worth that much per season especially in a small market.

The next player on the proverbial chopping block could be Thomas Vanek. He scored 43 goals last season, led the league in plus minus, and all in only his 2nd season. But are the Sabres or anyone else ready to shell out $4 or god forbid $5+ mil to this guy? He was mediocre in the playoffs yet showed some brilliance at times. He has only played 2 seasons and for all we know could have peaked. Yes it seems unlikely that he did, but who the hell knows, maybe he's a flash in the pan. Preferably the Sabres would like to sign him to another 1 year deal as they own his rights since he is still a Restricted Free Agent then seek a longer deal after seeing another season wit the kid. But, a crazy desperate franchise cough Flyers cough, could throw mad jack at this guy hoping to build a team around him. Mad jack being $5+ mil which would cost roughly um 4 FIRST ROUND PICKS if the Sabres don't match. So even the Flyers wouldn't be that stupid, but what about $4.5 mil and 2 first round picks. It is an unwritten rule you don't go after highly touted RFA's but thats just cause few have reached RFA status without a contract and are worth a high price. Maybe the Sabres should take the draft picks assuming Darcy is a genius and can simply plug in the next Vanek into the lineup.

When are the Sabres going to find out exactly how good players like Roy and Pominville are? Or for that matter Vanek, Connolly, Stafford, and other prospects? Is Pominville a 40 goal scorer consistently, he's still young and now has a plethora of playoff experience. How about Roy, he has shown goal scoring touch, some grit, can anyone say, Briere? We don't know, but until the Sabres truly depend on these guys alone, we won't know. Then again if you don't have to why even try to find out. But I believe that the added pressure and scrutiny can bring out the best and even the worst in players. If Vanek, Roy, Tin Can, and Pominville come to the realization that they are "the man" how will they handle it? I for one am willing to watch a 6, 7, or 8 seed team for a season to find out about these players.

However, is it really that easy to just flip a switch and regain the spot as a true Cup contender? Probably not, especially after losing alleged franchise players at the same time, Drury/Briere. Then again Miller is heralded as a top echelon goalie, and hasn't Brodeur led his team to at least the 2nd round and a few Stanley Cups along the way? Maybe goaltending (which supposedly the Sabres have solidified) is more important than a forward or center who has played in the Cup finals before. Then again it could be a combination of both.

I suggest, trying to sign them, if they want 5 years and $30 mil well PEACE OUT. There has to be some $3-4 million players than can have a similar impact and gel with this current team in place. Bolster the defense with some grit, find some players that are unable to get that big contract yet and are still hungry for the cup and $$greener$$ pastures (Briere and Drury 4 years ago) and see where it takes them.

This could be the ultimate test (outside of actually winning the cup) for Darcy and Ruff, yet another rebuilding with out a major drop off, because as we should have learned after the cup runs of 98-00, with a drop off in wins so does the drop off in attendance, at least in Buffalo.

Monday, May 28, 2007

a look back at the 1999 NHL Draft

by AP

The NHL draft is a decent event, it's better than MLB draft but doesn't compare to NFL or even the NBA draft because of the lack of the instant impact player. I love the NHL draft and seeing players I have played against (ie Kaleta) realize their dream, witnissing the betterment of the teams and the excitement that occurs in each draft. Here's a look at 1999 NHL Entry Draft who was selected in the first round and in hindsight, who should've gone based on how their pro careers turned out (forgetting about proper coaching and other circumstances.)

If each team could draft knowing what we all know now and not taking future drafts into account, this is how the first round should've gone. There were 28 picks in the first round of the 1999 draft. In parentheses is the round the player was actually taken.

How bad was the '99 draft? Patrik Stefan was first overall, a career 3rd liner, was taken first overall. Four first round picks never made it to the show and thirteen players played less than hundred games in the NHL during their careers. Vancouver, NY Rangers and NY Islanders all had multiple picks in the first round, Rangers flunked the first round exam, Islanders got a C+, and Vancouver aced the first round exam with an A. The Islanders had four first round picks and this is why Mike Milbury is the worst gm in history of sports (Millen being a close 2nd along with Isiah)If all four of these first round picks would have paid off, we would be talking about another Islander dynasty not a 15 year contract to a decent goalie.

1. Atlanta - Patrik Stefan (Ryan Miller, 5th)
Atlanta had no choice, the Sedin twins demanded playing together and not being split up (that can't be healthy) so I don't think this pick was horrible but he is considered a bust. Somehow the scouts thought Ryan Miller was a 5th rounder and now he is one of the top young goalies in the NHL.

2. & 3. Vancouver - Sedin Twins (perfect pick)
Vancouver traded up to select the twins, it has worked out well for them ever since.

4. NY Rangers - Pavel Brendl (Tim Connolly, 1st)
Pavel Brendl had the tools of a franchise player but had the makings of a bust instead.

5. NY Islanders - Tim Connolly (Niclas Havelid, 3rd)
Since Connolly was off the board, Havelid makes for a safe pick.

6. Nashville - Brian Finley (Martin Havlat, 1st)
Finley was the best goalie prospect in this draft, no question, but what do scouts know?

7. Washington - Kris Beech (Henrik Zetterberg, 7th)
Why the Red Wings have been so good for so long is they find players like Zetterberg in the 7th round.

8. NY Islanders - Taylor Pyatt (Frantisek Kaberle, 3rd)
Pyatt is justfiable but Kaberle is a solid defensmen.

9. NY Rangers - Jamie Lundmark (Dave Tanabe, 1st)
Lundmark is basically waiver wire player and never met the high expectations of the blue shirts. Tanabe is another solid defensmen.

10. NY Islanders - Branislav Mezei (Patrik Stefan, 1st)
Mezei at least made it and played over a 100 games, Stefan played four times that many.

11. Calgary - Oleg Saprykin (Taylor Pyatt, 1st)

12. Florida - Denis Shvidki (Mike Comrie, 3rd)

13. Edmonton - Jani Rita (Nick Boynton, 1st)

14. San Jose - Jeff Jillson (Niklas Hagman, 3rd)

15. Phoenix - Scott Kelman (Jordan Leopold, 2nd)

16. Carolina - Dave Tanabe (Chris Kelly, 3rd)

17. St. Louis - Barret Jackman (Ryan Malone, 5th)

18. Pittsburgh - Konstantin Koltsov (Martin Erat, 7th)

19. Phoenix - Kirill Safronov (Radim Vrbata, 7th)

20. Buffalo - Barrett Heisten (Adam Hall, 2nd)

21. Boston - Nick Boynton (Branko Radivojevic, 3rd)

22. Philadelphia - Maxime Ouellet (Alexander Khavanov, 8th)

23. Chicago - Steve McCarthy (perfect pick)

24. Toronto - Luca Cereda (Mikko Eloranta, 9th)

25. Colorado - Mikhail Kuleshov (Barrett Jackman, 1st)

26. Ottawa - Martin Havlat (Garnet Exelby, 7th)

27. New Jersey - Ari Ahonen (Alex Auld, 2nd)

28. NY Islanders - Kristian Kudroc (Mike Commodore, 2nd)

Best Draft - Pittsburgh

Worst Draft - Toronto, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Phoenix (to be honest, a lot of teams)

Biggest Bust - Pavel Brendl and Brian Finley tied

Steal of the Draft - Buffalo Sabres taking Ryan Miller 5th Round

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Buffalo Sabres my offseason

by Steve

Sure, in a perfect world Linda and Darcy would be fired, Briere would be kicked to the curb, a slight rebuilding would occur. Didn't a so called rebuilding after last season work for the Senators? Linda and Darcy will be back, shit maybe even Briere will be back, but what, would I do?

The salary cap for the 2007/08 season looks to be around $48 million. Players under contract for next season are Afinogenov ($3.5 ), Campbell (1.75 and in a walk year), Connolly (3.2) Gaustad (.75 in a walk year), Hecht (2.35 walk year) Kalinin (2.25 wy), Kotalik (2.5), Lydman (2.9), Miller(2.5), Pominville (.925), Spacek (3.475), Tallinder (2.5) That equals $28.35 mil although the NHL salary cap takes the life of the of the contract and spreads it out equally against the cap for the life on the contract but its around $28 mil and leaves the Sabres (assuming they will spend up to the cap, who knows Golisano didn't have a choice last year, we'll see this off season) $20 mil under the cap. (All numbers taken from http://www.sabresinsider.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=Sections&file=

Ideally you dump Kalinen and Spacek but that will be close to impossible even more so with Jaroslav. Drury is the top priority, but he could easily hold the Sabres hostage as he knows he is their #1 priority. Lets face it this is Chris Drury's last huge contract for the rest of his life. "He's a winner, Captain clutch, little league world series mvp" etc etc. He wants to get paid. While the Sabres will try to pay him they may lose out on Briere who has said he doesn't need to "max out" his contract. Both will be looking at $6.5 to $7 mil per for at least 4 years to get either of them. Perhaps Drury will get less than Briere based solely on the stats but who knows.

Goals and assists (Briere) are easier to replace than heart and determination (Drury) also his size and experience out weigh Briere. Their difference in age isn't much of a deterrent, so throw the jack at Drury, see what Dan wants and if someone isn't out there that can score 35 goals for $1.5-$2 mil less, then add up the numbers and see if it works.

Vanek is next, he is a restrict free agent along with Derek "dive" Roy so the Sabres own their rights unless someone swoops in and offers them a huge contract the Sabres wouldn't be willing to match. Well if that happens the Sabres would get at least 2 first round picks and up to 4 first round picks if the contract is north of $5 mill or so. So both should/will be with the Sabres next season.

Bring up Paetsch to replace Numminen who, thank god will be gone, although the Sabres haven't brough up a defenseman from the farm as a part of their top 6 since 2002. Hope someone takes a flier on Kalinen, and then see where we are on the blue line. Let Mair walk, bring in a solid forward like Mair but with more scoring touch or an ability to get under someone's skin ala Chris Neil or bring back Mair and lock him in a room with Tucker and Rob Ray and see what happens.

Obviously promoting from within is a cheaper and perhaps smart method than goin' crazy in free agency. There are players like Paille and Stafford who should/could be on the team next year. Mike Ryan is unrestricted and probably will end up else where. Another interesting piece to the puzzle is Dainius Zubrus. He is an UFA but shouldn't cost too much. He has the size and grit, although failed to score a goal in the post season but tallied 24 in the regular season (although mostly with Ovechkin) he should be pursued by Darcy but not at an exuberant expense.

The Sabres defense needs to get tougher and meaner. Sure Tallinder and Lydman are a solid pairing but are opposing teams forwards afraid to go in the corners and bang with them? Doubt it, so the Sabres need to look defense in free agency and quickly. All you need to do is look at what Mckee got last year and shake your head. Perhaps a trade with the pool of the young forwards on the farm and a veteran for a highly touted beast in the corners. The possibilities are endless.

The Sabres had their best look at a Cup last year after the lock out. They were a few bounces and over time goals away from a chance this year. The team is and probably will remain good. They have a coach that can get them some what deep into the playoffs and retaining Briere/Drury will keep the nucleus in tact. Players like Pommers Roysey and Vans still have upside so this shit doesn't need to be blown up. So, what I'm tryin to say is I'll give Darcy and Linda one last chance to AT LEAST GET TO THE FINALS or big changes may need to come next summer. Darcy and B. Tom are on the clock.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Buffalo Sabres head for the range

by Steve

Not unexpectedly the Buffalo Sabres season came to an end this weekend. Well, it shouldn't have been unexpected if you watched games 1-3 against the Sens last week. The disappointment, shock, anger, frustration etc has sunk in, no more hockey till October. Maybe people were starting to get a bit sick of it, maybe just I was, or worse maybe the players were.

The Eastern Conference finals were an embarrassment. Lindy and the boys didn't show up until game 4 at the earliest, never at the latest. Ottawa wanted it more, were more talented, perhaps better coached, certainly out muscled, and clearly didn't deserve a shot at the cup.

The worst part about the past 2 seasons was the hope, the high expectations, the possibilities which never came to fruition. These grossly talented team DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN THE CUP. They failed to even make the finals! Which means they were at least 5 wins away. Where is the accountability, what the fuck happened?

The simple answer is the Sabres, players coaches, management were straight up over rated. They won the division, they won 4 playoff series how could they have been overrated? Then again Lindy Ruff is 1 and 4 in championship rounds. Chris Drury road a wave with the likes of Forsberg Sakic Roy Foote etc etc. Dan The $5 million man really is under sized and not built for the playoffs, also clearly not a winner, or at least yet. The defense has crumbled in the playoffs each of the past two years, whether it was injuries or confidence, they have let this team down when it matters most, similar to the 2000's Bills defense in tough spots.

No one singularly can be pointed at as the sole cause of the Sabres demise. The Sabres got there as a team and they lost there as a team. Lindy juggled lines and sent conflicting signals, certain players failed to score, the special teams blew, the goalie let in weak goals, everyone contributed to the loss.

But in the end, the Sabres 06/07 season ended just like every other major Buffalo sports franchise's season since the mid 60's has ended, in failure. Don't feed me that crap that it wasn't a failure because you are probably the ass wipe with the 'One team One Goal' t shirt. So we'll keep waiting, keep cheering, standing with 10,000+ other people on perry st or where ever hoping cause this era, as short of an era as possible, 2 seasons, is probably over. Lindy is on the hot seat, Briere, Drury, Max, and Vanek are all in limbo, the defense needs major retooling, and besides that it is mostly role players, unless Pominville or Roy turn into something more special. Welcome to Buffalo, where there's always next year.

Coming up...
Offseason suggestions, a look to the future, then straight up Bills for 8 months.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Super Bowl XXV revisited

By Steve (editors note, final paper turned in as Senior Thesis)

In covering such a hugely important and popular event as the Super Bowl, especially in Buffalo, where the love of the Buffalo Bills can rival nearly any city/sports team in the country, one must also get a grasp of the times. A rust belt city moving into the decade of the 1990’s with steel plants closing, a gradual slow down in manufacturing and a rebirth of more southern cities, old areas like Buffalo were on the decline. People used sports as an escape mechanism to forget the troubles and tribulations on Sunday afternoons to watch their beloved Buffalo Bills. Furthermore, with the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq on August 2, 1990 and the eventual invasion of Iraq with Operation Desert Storm on January 17, 1991 by the United States and a strong coalition, the sports world was beginning to take a back seat to more pressing issues of the time.
A mere 10 days after the initial fighting began; the Super Bowl was played on January 27, 1991 between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Giants. According to published reports, there was much speculation as to whether the game should be played or not. Then President, George H.W. Bush was quoted as saying, "I am not going to be held a captive in the White House by Saddam Hussein of Iraq. We're going about our business, and the world goes on."

Furthermore, extensive searches upon entering the stadium were performed for safety reasons. Planes and blimps, traditionally flown over major sporting events for television and advertising were also banned from hovering over Tampa Stadium. These practices mirrored that of large events following the September 11th 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Jackie Walker
WIVB-TV Channel 4 CBS Buffalo (telephone interview)

I am the only news reporter who covered all four Super Bowls. Each one of them had a very different feel. The first one happened while the Golf War was happening and so security all of a sudden for this event was very tight and very high. A lot of people were very nervous, so you had that back drop against the very first Super Bowl for Bills fans.--

Ed Kilgore
WGRZ-TV Channel 2 NBC Buffalo

The atmosphere in Tampa was exciting, with thousands of Bills fans there all week milling about. Because the gulf war was still going on, there was also a very patriotic feeling at the time, and Bills and Giants fans seemed to be much more civil to each other than might have been the case under normal circumstances. --

The road to Super Bowl XXV in Tampa Florida started out quickly for Buffalo with the much celebrated rivalry with the Miami Dolphins. On January 12, 1991 the Dolphins visited then Rich Stadium in a match up between future hall of fame coaches and quarterbacks. Buffalo’s own Marv Levy and Jim Kelly defeated Don Shula, Dan Marino, and the Miami Dolphins 44 to 34 on a blistering cold Buffalo Saturday in January. The decisive victory for the Bills was only the first step in attempting to achieve their ultimate goal. As Dan Herbeck of the Buffalo News wrote, “It was an important win before a national television audience, but when it was over, ballplayers and fans seemed to take it in stride. The post-game celebration in Rich Stadium was upbeat but peaceful.”
The March towards Tampa continued on when the Los Angeles Raiders visited Rich Stadium on January 20, 1991. Not only did the Bills win, they annihilated their opponent 51-3 setting 18 different records while compiling 502 yards of offense. The sheer destruction at the hands of the Buffalo Bills led many fans to believe this was there year. The Bills were performing at such an amazing clip, the city and their fans went nuts for the Bills and were more confident then seemingly at any other time in their history. By defeating the L.A. Raiders, the Bills earned their first ever trip to the Super Bowl.
The lead up to the Super Bowl, and the frenzy of excitement can only be compared to the Buffalo Sabres and their most recent run towards the Stanley Cup in early 2007. The fan frenzy, the merchandise, and a back seat to nearly any other news story was the norm during this time.

Ed Kilgore
WGRZ-TV Channel 2 NBC Buffalo

The Bills were 6-7 point favorites, and certainly all of us felt the Giants could win the game. Nobody I know of thought they didn't have a chance; they were good. Most of us did feel the Bills had the better team and should win, but it obviously didn't happen.
Sure there was a huge buildup in Buffalo, although I was in Tampa all week, but back home there were rallies and signs in stores and pennants on cars and many visible signs of the Bills going to their first Super Bowl.
The players and coaches said all the usual things they say at such games. They respected their opponent, they were very happy to be here, etc. There were no "media controversies" that week at all.--

Jackie Walker
WIVB-TV Channel 4 CBS Buffalo (telephone interview)

We had hundreds of people just get in their car and drive to Tampa with out tickets with out hotel rooms. Fans were so excited they were in the Super Bowl and many Buffalonians realized they had to be a part of it.
My job was to go and to cover the fans and so here I was in Tampa interviewing fans who were actually sleeping in their cars, they had no place to go and little money; but they wanted to be apart of the entire experience and the excitement of the Bills First Super Bowl appearance.--

Jerry Sullivan
Buffalo News Sports Columnist

Super Bowl XXV was the first one I ever covered. It was my second year in Buffalo as a sports columnist and a great thrill. I felt the overwhelming sense of the community seeing its dream realized by having the Bills get to the big game. That was the overriding story of the week, that Buffalo was in the game and the town was enjoying
its time in the national spotlight. I actually think the players got too caught up in that and it cost them in the end.
The question going in was how the Giants could possibly stop the No Huddle, which had scored 95 points in two playoff games to that point. No one figured that Bill
Parcells would find a way, but at that point few of us knew much about an assistant coach named Bill Belichick. I told my buddy at the New York Daily News that it wouldn't be close. We had a bet. He also bet that O.J. Anderson, the Giants running back, would run for 100 yards. As I recall, it became the last 100 yard game of Anderson's career.
I wrote a big feature on Jim Kelly for the day of the game. It recounted his arrival in Buffalo and the hope that he engendered in town and how he had finally lived up to his advance billing by getting Buffalo to the big game.--

Mark Gaughan
Buffalo News Sports Reporter

I covered Super Bowl XXV (and the other Bills Super Bowls) for the Buffalo News. The lead story from the Buffalo perspective was the Bills' no-huddle offense and its’ juggernaut like status, coming off a 51-3 rout in the AFC championship game, the Bills were poised to win their first Super Bowl. The Bills were 7 point favorites and seemingly had all the momentum.
The key questions entering the game were: Could the Giants defense stop the Bills' offense, and could the Bills' run defense keep the Giants from controlling the clock? In addition, the first war in Iraq had just started, so that was the big national news story at the time.
Being a seven point favorite (a sizeable margin for a Championship game on a neutral field) the question was whether anyone realistically believed the Giants could pull off the upset. Leading up to the game, the majority of experts were picking the Bills but a significant number of people were picking the Giants, too.
That was the height of Bills fever. Bills merchandise was selling at record levels. If you went to the mall, it seemed every other person had Bills clothing on. I was in Tampa the week before the game but there were rallies and celebrations back in Western New York.. There was also great confidence the Bills were going to win especially in Buffalo.
It's worth noting that The Buffalo News did an interview with Scott Norwood on the day before the game - Saturday - in which he said he had been dreaming, during the week of the big game, of making the winning kick and looked forward to the chance to do it. --

Paul Peck
WIVB-TV CBS Channel 4 Buffalo Sports Producer

I covered all four Bills Super Bowls for WIVB-TV. At the time, my role was as the sports producer, so I coordinated all the station's coverage, the week leading up to the game, the main event, and the post game devastation.
The lead story for Super Bowl XXV was obviously the Bills getting there for the first time. In some ways, and in hindsight, getting there was almost more important than winning. It was such a relief/pride feeling from Buffalo fans that they had finally made it to the Super Bowl.--

Being a small to moderately sized U.S. market, the Buffalo media as a whole had limitations as to what each outlet could afford in covering Super Bowl XXV. Being arguably the largest single event to cover in Buffalo sports history and the first Super Bowl to be covered with the Bills as a participant, there were struggles along the way.
Despite a few snafus, there was a significant contingent of Buffalo media personnel that swarmed to Tampa. Everyone seemed to take pride in covering the game and attempted to pull out all the stops in depicting an accurate portrayal of the biggest game in Bills history.
Furthermore, the Bills media wasn’t alone in flocking to Tampa, Florida for the big game. Hundreds upon thousands of die hard Bills fans arrived in the Sunshine State via automobile, train, air plane, and any way possible. It was reported that the Buffalo Bills received 12,000 tickets to disperse among those who were willing and able to attend this monumental event.

Howard Simon
WGR Sports Radio Host

At the time of the Buffalo Bills first Super Bowl appearance I was working for a station in Niagara Falls and it didn't have enough money to get to any road games and especially a major event like the Super Bowl. Thus, I was stuck in Buffalo to report on the big game.--

Jackie Walker
WIVB-TV Channel 4 CBS Buffalo (telephone interview)

During the game itself I was not in the stadium because, and this was a nagging problem, that it being our first experience in such a huge event, the sports guys when they applied for press passes, didn't apply for enough for me and my photographer. The News people and I were kept outside the stadium.
I actually watched the game projected on the side of the Sears building across the street from the stadium where there was a shopping mall. There were so many people who didn't have tickets, hundreds of Bills fans watched the game projected on the side of a building across the street from where the event was actually taking place! --

Paul Peck
WIVB-TV CBS Channel 4 Buffalo Sports Producer

Channel 4 covered the game with our sports director Van Miller, our sports reporter Brian Blessing, myself as the sports producer, two news reporters/anchors, a news producer and four camera crews. We did live reports in every newscast, a nightly "Super Bowl Tonight" show at 11:30 each night, and a one hour "Touchdown Tampa" preview show Saturday night before the game.
There were a lot of Bills fans there in Tampa, and the news crews focused their coverage on them. We in sports focused on the players, who seemed very confident of a win. Maybe the players were too confident, as we would later learn.--

Ed Kilgore
WGRZ-TV Channel 2 NBC Buffalo

Our station, Channel 2, interviewed players and coaches and fans on a daily basis and put together sports and news packages several times daily and presented them with "live" satellite shows 3-4 times a day. We also did specials and an extra Jim Kelly Show from Tampa, among other things.
In regards to the actual game coverage, we did a live one hour special before the game outside the stadium, and then live post game shows from the Bills locker room after the game. --

Mark Gaughan
Buffalo News Sports Reporter

The Buffalo News sent about 20 reporters and photographers to Tampa to cover the game, which at the time was on par with what major metropolitan newspapers with a team involved were doing.
It was a normal Super Bowl week from a reporter's standpoint, with designated times each day in which the media had access to players and/or coaches. The teams are made available for an hour Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Selected players are also made available Monday night for 30 minutes. The head coaches - no players - do a press conference on Friday with no access to players or coaches on Saturday, the day before the game. My job on game day was to write a sidebar and notebook from the Bills' locker room.
In Tampa, there was a large contingent of Bills fans but the ticket allotment to participating teams is coordinated by the league. On game day, I recall the crowd in the stadium being slightly larger in favor of the Giants, which is no surprise since New York is such a bigger market. --

Jerry Sullivan
Buffalo News Sports Columnist

The Buffalo News sent 17 people to cover the game that week, which was an incredible amount for us. We had someone covering the social aspect. We had people writing about Tampa. I remember the first Gulf War was going on, so security was a story, too. It was a big deal in Buffalo at the time. I know there were a lot of Buffalo fans there. I remember one of the local papers had a bunch of guys from Mudd McGrath's tavern jumping into a swimming pool on the front page. --

As for the actual game, it proved to live up to the hype and then some. Being one of the most competitive and entertaining games in the history of the Super Bowl. The score remained close from the opening kick off to the final field goal attempt. Neither team committing even one turnover, the game arguably boiled down to coaching. The Buffalo Bills, led by offensive coordinator Ted Marchibroda and head coach Marv Levy, decided to leave the play calling up to quarterback Jim Kelly throughout the game. The Bills attacked with a highly innovative new offensive technique of the “no-huddle” offense, in which a quick striking fast pace team leaves the defense off balance.
In the end, the New York Giants and head coach Bill Parcells were too experienced. Their game plan worked to perfection, limiting the Bills offense by maintaining possession of the football for a record 40 minutes and 33 seconds.

The game’s outcome, however, would not be determined until a 47 yard field goal was attempted with 8 seconds remaining on the clock.
Buffalo Bills place kicker Scott Norwood was called upon to attempt the longest field goal on natural grass in his career. Unfortunately for Bills fans, the infamous “wide right” field goal was the result, causing near devastation and disbelief throughout Western New York and beyond.

"I hit it solid, but I guess I tried to kick it too hard," Norwood explained. . "I needed more follow-through; I should have brought my hips into it quicker to make the ball draw."

Bucky Gleason
Buffalo News Copy Writer

I did not cover the Bills' first Super Bowl. I was actually working part-time at the News as a copy editor and wrote the headline for that story. If I remember, it was
"Super dreams go wide right." --

Jerry Sullivan
Buffalo News Sports Columnist

After the game, I wrote a column that I'm still proud of. The lead read something like this: "Years from now, people will look back on this game and remember Scott Norwood missing a field goal in the closing seconds. But it was the defense that cost the Bills the game ... ''
Of course, Norwood went down in infamy but he never should have been put in that position. They were clearly the better team and were badly out coached that day. I once wrote that the loss should have been enough to keep Marv Levy out of the Hall of Fame. A few days after the game, I also wrote that giving the offensive play calling to Kelly hurt them in the end. He played right into the Giants' hands by not calling enough runs. --

Mark Gaughan
Buffalo News Sports Reporter

I think Norwood got pretty fair treatment in Buffalo. Most Bills fans - and our columnist, Larry Felser - did not focus as much on Norwood's miss costing the Bills the game so much as the poor play of the Bills defense and its inability to get the Giants off the field.
The Giants held the ball for 40:33. The general reaction was the Bills did not deserve to win the game. Norwood had not made a kick that long on grass all year, so it was not a shock that he missed the kick.
As for the players, and the locker room, it was near devastation. It was a very down locker room. Not a lot of Bills were eager to talk but some did. Darryl Talley stood up and took personal responsibility - he blamed himself for missing tackles.
In my post-game piece, I wrote a story on Jim Kelly after the game based on Kelly's post-game interview. His take, if I recall, was that the offense didn't cash in on its chances to score in the first half. He wasn't blaming Norwood at all.
As for the city of Buffalo and the fans they were as devastated. It's well documented how Norwood was greeted at a rally on the steps of city hall 2 days after the game -- fans shouted "thank you Scott."
To a certain degree, I don't know if die-hard Bills fans will ever get over that loss completely. The Bills did not have the better team the next three trips to the Super Bowl. They arguably had a slightly better team that day and came very close in a game that was overall very well played by both teams. There were no turnovers and only 11 penalties in the game combined. It was a great game. Bills fans don't give that Giants team enough credit. New York executed the exact same game plan against a great, great San Francisco team the week before in the NFC final (SF was two-time defending NFL champs). New York set an NFL record that year for fewest turnovers committed in a 16-game season. That record still stands.
Reflecting back, the Bills never had the best defense in their four Super Bowl trips. Their defenses those four years ranked, in order, 8th, 27th, 12th and 27th. The four teams that beat them had defenses that ranked, in order starting with the Giants, second, third, first and 10th. --

Ed Kilgore
WGRZ-TV Channel 2 NBC Buffalo

As for the missed Norwood kick, I was in the interview area underneath the stadium at that moment, watching on one of the TV monitors. While I personally felt a sinking feeling, I also had a ton of work to do, and didn't really reflect on it until later.
In the locker room, Norwood was one of the first players I talked to, and he was very very quiet, but answered each and every question. The players were very subdued, and I always remember feeling they felt they had the better team and should have won the game, and they realized it was a chance they might not get again.
In the post game coverage, I remember saying these things, but also looking back at the entire season in a positive light. There was bitter disappointment, yet a lot of pride mixed in there too.
Back in Buffalo, some 25,000 turned out for the Bills in the city square and one of the biggest cheers was for Scott Norwood, believe it or not. We covered the entire rally live, right there. --

Jackie Walker
WIVB-TV Channel 4 CBS Buffalo (telephone interview)

The major story then following the game was of course "the kick", Scott Norwood's kick. What happened was when the game was coming to an end, my photographer and I ran over to the stadium so we'd be there when people left the stadium so we could get reaction interviews. And because the kick was right at the end, people were stunned; they walked out of that stadium as if they were in some sort of cloud. It was very difficult for me to get reactions from people because they didn't know what to say. It was as if they had just lost their best friend.
. People also just wanted to get out of there; they didn't want to hang around after what had just occurred. It was like trying to get away from a bad thing that had happened. And again there was the security problem which made it doubly difficult. The following year, when I was getting reaction, people were more up beat " oh we'll get 'em next year" People became more used to getting to the Super Bowl and learned how to cope after being hardened by this difficult loss. --

Paul Peck
WIVB-TV CBS Channel 4 Buffalo Sports Producer

I would say there was more shock from the players after the game. Shocked, that they lost (after being big favorites), and shocked that they lost that way. I remember the locker room being very quiet. But I do remember Norwood answering everyone's questions, the same ones two and three times. I know Marv Levy has since admitted it took him a few weeks to get over the loss.

The leader and quarterback of the team, Jim Kelly, was later quoted as saying, "We should have had the game wrapped up before the half, but we didn't. So, I guess that our problem in this game, our first Super Bowl, was a matter of experience, or our lack of experience." The Buffalo Bills went on, in record fashion, to lose another three Super Bowls back to back to back to back. A record that seems destined to never be broken. The Buffalo Bills and their fans are still waiting, to this day, for that illusive Super Bowl Championship.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It's Bills Season, Officially

by Coast

I think it is safe to say that it is over. The Senators have grabbed a 3-0 series lead with a 1-0 shutout of the Sabres last night.

The Sabres have shown no heart in this series. There is no effort and desperation like there was a year ago when everyone fell in love with this team. In a must win hockey game the Sabres managed only 15 shots on goal and barely any quality scoring chances.

The Sabres media and fans like to complain about officiating more than any team in sports. Well, the Sabres had 7 more power plays yesterday. That makes 19 in the series. The Sabres are a stellar 0-19 and yesterday, their power play was the worst I have seen in my 15 plus years of watching hockey. This team can't even gain the zone. They cannot get a forecheck going. They simply cannot even set the power play up. For a team that one the President's trophy, this power play is downright embarrassing. It really is an embarrassment to the city of Buffalo. One on the their power plays yesterday they actually have up a 2 on 0. How do you give up a 2 on 0 when you have more players on the ice than the other team. When Ottawa is on the power play, they have no problem gaining the zone and setting it up. The Senators are now 4-17 in the series on the power play after going 0-7 last night. The penalty kill did improve, but in the last 20 opportunites, they have allowed 7 goals. That still is terrible and the Sabres are still -5 in 3 games on special teams.

Ryan Miller was the best player on the ice for Buffalo last night. He was the sole reason that the game remained 1-0 because the rest of the team took the night off. But let's face it, the goal he let in was absolutely terrible. How do you not glove that puck? It slid right to him and he somehow missed it and knocked it towards the night. Yeah, it was a weird play but there is no doubt Miller should have had that. This is another example of a Buffalo choke job. Miller had a great game and choked on that play, but at least he didn't choke the entire game like the rest of the team.

Where are the Sabres forwards? Drury was MIA yesterday. Where was this guy?? The supposed clutch playoff performer. Well, in nearly 20 minutes of ice time, he had 0 shots on goal. Our best face off guy also lost 11 of 18 draws. I could go on and on. Briere, Roy, Kotalik, Connolly (Our power play savior), Spacek, Kalinin (OMG he was bad yesterday and this whole series), Pomminville, Zubrius, etc etc etc. WHEN ARE THESE GUYS GOING TO SHOW UP???? IT IS OVER FOLKS, YOUR BELOVED SABRES ARE CHOKE ARTISTS WHO LAY DOWN IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS!!

It is Bills season. All you banwagon Sabre fans can jump off your wagons and back onto the Bills train now. Ticket sales are good, keep buying them. The Sabres are no different than any typical Buffalo sports team...they get close but can't close the deal and this is the most pathetic showing I have ever seen in my life.

HOT AND COLD (Steve's thing but I am doing it anyways)


ALfreddson, Heatley, Spezza, Redden, Murray, ETC


Sabres and Lindy Ruff, Fire his ass

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Buffalo "There's always next year"

by Steve

Sure the series isn't over.. its only two games, fuck i'll be the first to say IT ISN'T OVER. But christ how do you lose this game? You get up 2 nothing in the first 10 minutes. You're at home, its the eastern conference finals. WHAT THE FUCK.../??!!!!!?!?!?!?

I went to the game, got a scalped ticket $50, 20 minutes before the game started, say 10 rows up where the sabres shot twice instead of 3 times. Well after Briere scored the fans were still a joke.. I was basically the only one yelling.

Back to the game, I'm sick to my stomach.. Ryan fucking Miller?? are you serious, sure there was a 5 on 3 goal.. the rest he needs to save.. aw don't wanna hurt his psychy fuck you.. This team is a travesty and unless a semi miracle occurs by Wednesday at around 11 pm and the game is again tied this team will go down in history as one of if not the biggest choke job hack over rated pieces of shit teams OF ALL TIME. Definitely buffalo sports all time.

But hey, it really ISN'T OVER BUT one word sums it up.. whether it is frustration anger disappointment disbelief what ever ..


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sabres drop game 1 of Eastern Conference Finals

by Steve

An actual quote from Rick Jeanerette " Who needs Bobby Orr when you have Tony Lydman" Well I guess the Sabres did as they lose the pivotal first game at home against a team that over matched them in their own barn. The Ottawa Senators took the first game in the 3rd period as the game was tied 2-2. Scoring the next two goals and eventually winning with an empty netter making it 5-2.

Dan Briere 0 shots, Chris Drury 1 shot. The Senators scored twice on the power play and added another on a Sabres' powerplay. Clearly, clearly, special teams was the factor in this game. The Sabres seemingly didn't get a shot on goal during their 5 opportunities with the extra attacker. The only adjective that can be used is embarrassing.

Tyeing the game up in the 2nd period the Sabres appeared to have the advantage going into the 3rd period, but the Sens took it too the 'bres and the game never swung back into the Sabres favor.

Maybe the Senators are just too good for the Sabres but for 40 minutes it seemed to be pretty even. The Sens' defense limited Buffalo to a ridiculously low 20 shouts total. Something or some one needs to step up on Saturday. I'm not gonna say its a must win, but christ losing the first two at home could be a challenge few teams in history can over come.

HEY DANNY BBBBBBBB WAKE UPPPPPP. $5 million man.... Lindy nice power play, way to coach 'em up. Interesting stat, the Sabres have never won game 2 in a series when they have lost game 1. update fact checks tell me they did once against boston in 99

One team one goal?!?!!! Whatever that means..

Mike Fisher
Bryan Murray
Senators special teams

Sabres special teams
Danielle Briere
Tim Connolly

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Bills Draft Reviews

(sharked this from buffalorange.com and I think bb.com)
by Chris Brown, Lead Journalist

A week after the NFL draft all the reviews are in, and most of them were in favor of Buffalo's approach in addressing the holes that existed on their roster. Below we provide a list of draft grades provided by some of the more notable national media outlets.

USA Today - Tom Weir
Three out of four stars
Buffalo Bills ***
RB Marshawn Lynch makes Willis McGahee's departure tolerable. LB Paul Posluszny is a mini-steal with the 34th pick. QB Trent Edwards is a questionable third-round pick, considering Buffalo has multiple defensive needs.

ESPN.com - Mel Kiper
Buffalo Bills: GRADE: B
The Bills had no choice but to go after Marshawn Lynch with the loss of Willis McGahee. Paul Posluszny could be a middle linebacker or OLB, making up for the loss of London Fletcher. Running back Dwayne Wright was a very good fourth-round pick if he can stay healthy. Down the road, Trent Edwards could give J.P. Losman some competition. And if Edwards develops in two or three years, the Bills could trade him, similar to what Atlanta did with Matt Schaub. John Wendling is a very athletic safety and was a good sixth-round pick. Derek Schouman is a pass-catching tight end with limited blocking skills.

ESPN - Scouts Inc. - Todd McShay
Buffalo Bills
Best pick: Paul Posluszny, OLB, Penn State. The Bills got a steal with this second-round pick. Posluszny lacks elite athleticism and he slipped a bit due to a knee injury a year ago, but don't doubt he could easily win the starting job by Week 1 of the 2007 season.

Worst pick: Marshawn Lynch, RB, Cal. Lynch is a very talented back with a strong build, above average speed and good receiving skills. But he has too many question marks to justify selecting him No. 12 overall. Instead of paying Willis McGahee market value, the Bills will overpay for a less talented back who never carried the full load at Cal.

FOXSports.com - John Czarnecki
Czar's breakdown: The Bills had very strong needs in the draft and most of their competitors thought they had a very solid draft. With the loss of RB Willis McGahee, they needed to find a runner and they grabbed Cal's Marshawn Lynch in the first round and Dwayne Wright of Fresno State in the fourth round. Wright finished with 2,683 yards in 22 starts and also had a 295-yard game against Louisiana Tech. Lynch was considered the draft's second-best runner after running a 4.46 at the combine. In the second round, the Bills grabbed Penn State LB Paul Posluszny, a two-time winner of the Bednarik
Award as college football's best defensive player. He also won the Butkus Award and overcame partial tears to his right knee and was forced to wear a brace. Very productive and very instinctive and should be an instant starter. Stanford QB Trent Edwards was considered a solid choice in the third round and could end up being the backup this season. Boise State's Derek Schouman is a classic H-back candidate and a great blocker despite many injuries during his college career.
Grade: A

Yahoo Sports - Jason Cole & Charles Robinson
Buffalo Bills: This is not necessarily a complaint about the players the Bills drafted because running back Marshawn Lynch is very talented, linebacker Paul Posluszny was considered a first-round talent and quarterback Trent Edwards was highly regarded by many. However, you have to wonder if the Bills did a lot of checking into Lynch's background, given the character issues, before they used a pick this high on him. Even more, Lynch is probably going to like Buffalo's weather as much as former back Willis McGahee. That said, if the Bills get four or five good years out of Lynch, who cares if he
likes it there?
Grade: B+

CBS Sportsline - Charlie Casserly
Buffalo Bills
They filled immediate needs with their first two picks. Marshawn Lynch gives them an immediate starter at RB. I do not believe he is as good as any RB taken in the first round last year (Bush, Maroney, Williams and Addai). The problem is those players weren't in this draft. Darrelle Revis would have been a good fit here, too. Paul Posluszny was one of my favorite players I looked at this spring. I looked at 2005 tape because he was recovering from an injury. He had great instincts on tape and from my experience, this characteristic above all others, is the most important for linebackers.
Trent Edwards gives them a young QB to go along with J.P. Losman. Scouts I talked to last fall thought he had a chance to go late in the first round, but he did not have good workouts this spring and has some injury concerns. But he's still a good value in the third round. Dwayne Wright will help them at RB. He does not have great speed but he has good instincts and quickness. I like what the Bills did in this draft.

CBSSportsline - Pete Prisco
Buffalo Bills
Best pick: Taking Marshawn Lynch with their first pick will prove to be a great move. He will be their franchise back for a long time.

Questionable move: I know a lot of people like Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny, but I think he's a little stiff. Using a high second-round pick could backfire.

Second-day gem: Running back Dwayne Wright will be the perfect backup to Lynch. He's a real tough inside runner.

Overall grade: C. Lynch makes the grade decent, but the rest of the draft doesn't do a lot for me.

SI.com - Paul Zimmerman 'Dr. Z.'
They're in the recycling business. They had a perfectly fine little running back, Travis Henry, and they recycled him for Willis McGahee. McGahee was doing well, and then they recycled him for the current top draft, Marshawn Lynch. Who knows? Maybe somewhere in some high school in West Virginia there's this big kid just waiting to ... you know. You can keep drafting this way. It's called marking time, and if this were all there was to the Bills' roster, their grade would be down somewhere in half moon land. But the trade-up for LB Paul Posluszny makes some kind of sense, and the third-round
choice, strong-armed QB Trent Edwards, is intriguing, although I can't understand what kind of competition they're trying to set up between he and J.P. Losman. And here's the pick that really gets me excited. Seventh round -- TE Derek Schouman, whose workout numbers absolutely blew away the competition at the combine. I just have a feeling about this guy.

Chicago Tribune - Don Pierson
Buffalo Bills
General manager Marv Levy and coach Dick Jauron know whom they like and aren't afraid to draft them earlier than their grades indicate. Last year they took safety Donte Whitner before anyone expected, and he started right away. This year Cal running back Marshawn Lynch filled a need with the departure of Willis McGahee. They traded up to get linebacker Paul Posluszny in Round 2, again to fill a need. Trent Edwards fell lower than expected, so they added another young quarterback.
Grade: C

Dallas Morning News - Rick Gosselin
Buffalo B
The Bills considered taking Posluszny in the first and wound up with him in the second. Lynch is an automatic starter, replacing Willis McGahee. Edwards is excellent QB insurance for J.P. Losman.

Detroit News - Mike O'Hara
Buffalo Bills: C+
They drafted for need in the first two rounds -- RB Marshawn Lynch and LB Paul Posluszny. Both filled spots created by the departure of free agents. QB Trent Edwards (third round) and RB John Wendling (sixth) were value picks.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Sabres head to Eastern Conference Finals

By Steve

Well, the Buffalo Sabres are living up to the hype. Clinching their 2nd round series with the New York Rangers in 6 games at the Garden. Every Sabres fan from Syracuse to San Diego has been saying the Sabres are going to win the cup, this is "our year" the Sabres are the best team in the league etc etc. Whether all of that is true or not doesn't really matter, the Sabres are doing just enough to get by and are succeeding.

The truth is though, the Sabres are only half way there. Next up is an Ottawa team that looks pretty fuckin good right now. They rolled up Brodeur and the Devils in 5, put down the baby Penguins in five and look primed for the Sabres probably starting on Thursday. No one can say the Islanders or Rangers looked better than either the Penguins or Devils heading into the playoffs. Furthermore, no fan will admit the Sabres at times struggled in both series' although less so against the Islanders. The same can't be said about the Sens who basically steam rolled through their first two rounds.

Some will point to the Senators 4-3-1 record against the Sabres in the regular season while others will mention how much better Miller is than Emery. However, their statistics up to this point are very similar. Miller's GAA and save % are 2.07 and .928 while Emery's are 2.04 and .919. True Miller has faced 76 more shots and played one more game so what does that then say about each team's defense. And in there lies the true determining factor in this series. Not the goaltending, but the defense of each squad.

If the Senators allow the Sabres to skate and pepper Emery with 30+ shots a game, the Sabres will have an advantage. If however, the Senators try and clog the neutral zone and mirror the play of the two losing NYC teams, this series may again end up with 2-1 games.

Buffalo needs to find their 4th and 5th gear. This means players like Connolly and Vanek need to contribute even more. Tin Can will be playing in his 14th game since returning and should be about done with "preseason". The powerplay and penalty kill need to improve although not dramatically, and the Sabres need to take game 1 at home. The Sabres alleged 4 lines and experience of last year's playoffs should help them this year as Emery is unproven still in big games, while players like Alfredson and Heatley need to once again prove themselves as superstars in this league.
Sabres in 6


Briere (3 assists last game I don't give a shit still 0 5-5 goals)
Brett Hull

Friday, May 4, 2007

Game 5, Sabres Rangers

By Steve

No two ways about it, tonight is a must win game for the Buffalo Sabres. Mathematically it is not, but the Sabres have not been able to prove they can win in the Garden in the playoffs this year. Maintaining home ice advantage will probably determine this series.

Ryan Miller has yet to steal a game however has played well above average. Lundqvist has been balling as well, and scoring 1 goal will not win a game. Calling the fourth line! Where is this four line team that everyone has been chirping about all season? Lindy Ruff is making nervous decisions juggling lines benching players rolling only 3 lines, why change now? Then again Drury and Briere have been a no show the past 2 games.

The stats are there, terrible power play, average penalty kill, maybe it has just been a product of a difficult environment in New York City. Regardless, the Sabres better show up tonight or fans and the media will turn on them quicker than the $5 million man can imagine. Then again, there is nothing really to point to that would insinuate a Sabres collapse tonight. Everyone keeps telling me they have a "great" coach, who knows how to get it done in the playoffs (0 championships) and Miller is playing strong sans 1 weak/average goal a game. Plus everyone's boy Paul Guastad returns to the line up.

Is this guy's return being grossly over stated or is it just me? He'll be on a line allegedly with Pominville and Mair, watch out! He hasn't played in some 4 months and is looking at about 7 minutes of ice time. Maybe I'm undervaluing his presence in the lockeroom, and his "grit/toughness" but I just don't see him being a major factor tonight.

Alas it is definitely not time to panic... yet, wait till 10:45 tonight if the Sabres score less goals than the Rangers. Until then feel confident, drink some beers and hope the captains find their game.

Henrik Lundqvist
Jaromir Jagr
Paul Guastad

Lindy Ruff
Jochen Hecht

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Wager Wednesday

Coast (4-4-1)

1.) Twins(Minnesota) Bonser @ DevilRays(TampaBay) Seo w
Devil Rays +120 5/2/07 7:10 PM

2.) Blue Jaus (Toronto) Zambrano @ Indians (Cleveland) Westbrook w
Over 10 -130 5/2/07 7:05 PM

3.) Alex Rodriguez Will he record a double or homerun? No Action
Yes +140 5/2/07 8:05 PM

4.) Devils (New Jersey) @ Senators (Ottawa) L
Devils +150 5/2/07 7:05 PM

Steve (3-3)
1.) Twins(Minnesota) Bonser @ DevilRays(TampaBay) Seo L
Over 10.5 05/02/07 7PM

2.) WhiteSox(Chicago) Danks @ Mariners(Seattle)Batista L
White Sox (+115) 05/02/07 15:35 ET

3.) New York Rangers @ Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo Sabres -1.5 5/3/07 7:08 PM

1.)Tim Duncan (Spurs) Total Made Free Throws 4 L
Over 4 Free Throws (EVEN)

2.)Twins(Minnesota) Bonser @ DevilRays(TampaBay) Seo L
Twins -127 5/2/07 7:10 PM

3.)Nuggets vs Spurs - Total 3 Point Field Goals Made by BOTH Teams w
Over 12 (-120) 5/2/07 8:10 PM

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

New York Rangers even series with the Buffalo Sabres

By Steve

The Battle of New York II was tied up at 2-2 after another close game in MSG seeing the Sabres lose 2-1 to the Rangers. Another low scoring game with yet another Toronto war room review occurred Tuesday night. Was it a goal wasn't it goal, doesn't matter. the series is tied at 2 heading back to Buffalo Friday.

Dan Briere, the "$5 million man" failed, according to Toronto, to put the puck into a seemingly wide open net whenHendrik Lundquist split the legs and got his right pad to the goal line at nearly the exact same time as the puck. The official answer was that there was no conclusive evidence to suggest the puck crossed the goal line. Sabres fans believe the puck crossed the line as it slid out of sight underneath the goalie's pad for a split second.

Alas, Sabres fans can't really complain, echoing the sentiment of coach Lindy, a lot of close calls and booth reviews have gone to the Sabres way in this series. The real question is how the "$5 million man" didn't get the puck and jam it clearly past Lundquist? Or, why the power play and now penalty kill, giving up 2 power play goals, played worse than Sunday afternoon? Brutallllll

Furthermore, questioning the great coach Lindy is also necessary. The 2006 coach of the year decided to bench alleged star Max Afinogenov and replace him with lesser known rookie Dan Paille. The newbie rookie, Paille, played the least of any player on either team, playing only 4:52 total. What is the justification for dressing this guy and playing him for 8 shifts? To send a message? Well the Sabres players didn't get it, playing mediocre hockey until the 10 minute mark and the team seeing their chances slipping away down 2-0 in the 3rd period.

Clearly, special teams decided this game. The Rangers (2-4) out played the Sabres (0-4) on the powerplay. Yeah sure IF IF IF the goal with under 20 seconds to play counted itwould have made that point mute, but where were the Sabres and all of their 20 30 and 40 goal scorers up-until that point?

Make excuses about the ice, or that MSG is a tough place to play, as to why the Sabres lost but the fact is, Friday night is a must win for the Sabres and they better improve quickly. Neither team has defeated the other on their home ice, and the Sabres must maintain that trend Friday. The one thing Sabres fans can hang their hat on is that Buffalo started to look like the "real" (whatever that means) Sabres in the final 10 minutes, finally skating their asses off, creating chances, and forcing the Rangers to run around. Hopefully that momentum carries through to game 5 and the Sabres can take the crucial 3-2 lead in this series.

Buffalo Sabres heading into game 4 @ MSG

By Steve

Rumors flying about a change in the line up for the Buffalo Sabres with today's interview of coach Lindy saying Paul Gaustad will be ready to play friday and barring a set back will be in the line up. Furthermore, Dan Paille will be dressed for the pre-game skate tonight. Will Max be benched, or hopefully Briere who knows.

The great coach needs to figure out how to fix the powerplay either way cause 1 for 9 last game was a travesty. Yes the Sabres still have a strangle hold on the series holding a 2-1 lead in the series and 2 games left in the bank arena but nervousness is creeping into Sabre Nation.

Making a knee jerk reaction benching someone and putting Paille in tonight would be a mistake. The Sabres played a team fighting for their lives on Sunday and ended up losing in double OT. The road team is at a disadvantage in over time in the playoffs and moreover players like Briere and Drury didn't get the job done and they can't be taken out. The shitty ice was also a factor although both teams do have to deal with it.

The Sabres are used to fighting threw the weak goal Miller lets in every game and until now it hasn't effected this team. Now that they have run into a superior goalie they need to do something different to puck the puck in the net and perhaps giving Tin Can more time on the ice or limit a player like Hecht's .

Tonight is huge, if the Sabres win the Rangers will have an extremely difficult uphill fight to win the series but if they win they are right back in it heading back to Buffalo. The key for the Sabres to win tonight is actually scoring on the powerplay more than 10% of the time, creaing odd man rushes and getting in Jagr and Avery's grill.

Jaromir Jagr
Hendrik Lundquist
Dimitri Kalinen
Rangers Penalty Kill

Chris Drury
Lindy Ruff
Jochen Hecht